This exchange took place in June 1986, during a coffee break in one of those frustrating interprofessional discussions that seemed to be convened once a week in those days to discuss the implications of the latest government initiative in education. I can't recall precisely the topic of discussion — it might have been the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI), or pupil records of achievement, or teacher appraisal, or the new GCSE examinations, or school selfevaluation, or the latest cuts in university finance, or, or, or. The agenda of the debate in the eighties was dominated by the thrust of political initiatives at the national level. The bid for political control of the curriculum was in full swing, and many of us in the education business were engaged in what we saw to be damage limitation. The sardonic response to my book title was, in this context, a cry of protest about a government that appeared to be increasingly impervious to any reasoning other than its own, and that seemed determined to impose its will and its massive parliamentary majority on a supposedly decentralized system.